Breck artist co-op takes new lease on life | SummitDaily.com
YOUR AD HERE »

Breck artist co-op takes new lease on life

KEELY BROWNspecial to the daily
Summit Daily/Kristin Skvorc
ALL |

When Arts Alive! took a new lease in the LaCima Mall last month, it literally took a new lease on life as well.The artists’ co-op gallery in Breckenridge was threatened with its very survival when its lease was unexpectedly terminated at the beginning of May. The bad news came at the beginning of April, giving the Summit County Arts Council one month to find a new location for the gallery.Fortunately, their landlord offered another space in LaCima Mall – for twice the rent. In spite of the rent increase, the Summit County Arts Council board of directors decided to go ahead and try the new location, which relocated the gallery to Unit 2A in LaCima Mall – a space that was formerly Sam Goody’s Music Store. “By the time we made the decision, we had a little over a week to get the word out to the artists that we were going to move,” said Arts Alive! gallery director Bob Hoppin.About a dozen volunteers showed up that weekend, moving over a hundred pieces of art, display cases and pedestals. Volunteers also spray-painted the entire gallery and spruced it up, just in time for an opening on May 1.As a not-for-profit gallery, Arts Alive! is subsidized by the Summit County Arts Council.”Most months, we don’t have enough arts sales to pay the overhead, which is primarily our rent,” said Hoppin. “The remainder is money that the arts council raises in a number of ways, such as new member fees and membership dues.”So far, with the exception of the Mother’s Day Second Saturday Art Walk weekend, business at the gallery has been slow. But since this is the height of Summit County’s so-called mud season, the gallery is only open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Beginning in June, Arts Alive! will go back to its regular schedule of seven days a week.As part of its mission statement to promote the visual arts by showcasing and supporting local artists and enhancing the cultural life of Summit County, the Summit County Arts Council realized its dream of establishing the co-op gallery back in November of 2004.

About a dozen volunteers showed up that weekend, moving over a hundred pieces of art, display cases and pedestals. Volunteers also spray-painted the entire gallery and spruced it up, just in time for an opening on May 1.As a not-for-profit gallery, Arts Alive! is subsidized by the Summit County Arts Council.”Most months, we don’t have enough arts sales to pay the overhead, which is primarily our rent,” said Hoppin. “The remainder is money that the arts council raises in a number of ways, such as new member fees and membership dues.”So far, with the exception of the Mother’s Day Second Saturday Art Walk weekend, business at the gallery has been slow. But since this is the height of Summit County’s so-called mud season, the gallery is only open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Beginning in June, Arts Alive! will go back to its regular schedule of seven days a week.As part of its mission statement to promote the visual arts by showcasing and supporting local artists and enhancing the cultural life of Summit County, the Summit County Arts Council realized its dream of establishing the co-op gallery back in November of 2004.

Since then, Arts Alive! has maintained a unique arrangement with its artists. Exhibitors automatically become members of the Summit County Arts Council, giving a percentage of their sales proceeds back to the gallery. In addition, many of these artists work as volunteers in the gallery, which gives them a reduction on that percentage. This arrangement has suited both artists and gallery management alike over the past two years.”We were doing good sales, and three-quarters of the artists in the gallery were selling something,” said Hoppin. “The co-op idea was working.”But now, since the move and the increased rents, the gallery’s future remains uncertain.”If we hadn’t been able to negotiate a new lease on something we could have afforded, the decision was already made to close,” said Hoppin. “But now, we’re going to have to see whether the lease we did settle on is really affordable.”In other words, Arts Alive! isn’t out of the woods yet.

“We have a projection that, unless the sales are gangbusters this summer, at the end of this year we may run out of arts council savings that continue to subsidize the gallery,” said Hoppin.On the flip side, Hoppin said that the new location is better in nearly every way. Being closer to the sidewalk makes the gallery more visible to Main Street traffic than it formerly was. Another advantage is that the new space is a good 300-square feet larger than the former one, with the additions of a storage room and a bathroom.According to Hoppin, support from local residents would be the greatest boost for the gallery right now.”We’re having better support from tourists than locals,” he admitted. “People can get complacent about their hometown businesses.”Arts Alive! is currently showcasing the work of 40 local and regional artists. One of these artists, Jenn Cram, has exhibited her ceramics pieces in the gallery since its opening. As vice president of the board of the Summit County Arts Council, Cram is well aware of the challenges that Arts Alive! faces in the coming months – and of the gallery’s value to the life of the local arts community.

“Arts Alive! is important to me because it provides me with visibility and a space to share my work with the community, as well as a chance to interact with other artists,” she said. “And it gives me the motivation to keep a fresh body of work out there in the art world.”Cram said that, for now, the arts council is willing to take on the financial risks of the new location, because the survival of Arts Alive! is well worth it.”We’re definitely giving it our all,” she said. “Making huge profits isn’t our goal. As long as we can break even, we’ll be happy.”


Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

As a Summit Daily News reader, you make our work possible.

Now more than ever, your financial support is critical to help us keep our communities informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having on our residents and businesses. Every contribution, no matter the size, will make a difference.

Your donation will be used exclusively to support quality, local journalism.

For tax deductible donations, click here.
 

Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User